Are we euthanizing conscious patients?
The stem-cell war took a new twist. A leading research firm, Advanced Cell Technology, said it had generated embryonic stem cells from "blastomeres," cells taken from eight-cell embryos. Since such early embryos commonly survive removal of a blastomere for genetic testing during IVF, the idea is to make stem cells from the embryo without killing it. ACT's spin: We made the stem cells "using an approach that does not harm embryos." Critics' reactions: 1) Does not harm embryos? You killed them all when you plucked off the blastomeres. 2) You cheated by using extra blastomeres to help each other develop, which can't be done without killing embryos. 3) This is more stem-cell fraud like the Korean cloning scandal. 4) What couple who's going through IVF anxiety is going to let you pluck a cell from their embryo? ACT's rebuttal: Well, our method doesn't harm embryos in principle. (WSJ link requires subscription.) (For Human Nature's initial report on the ACT idea, click here. For Human Nature's take on the Korean fraud, click here.)
Latest Human Nature columns: 1) The global explosion of fat. 2) The case for genital mutilation. 3) The liquid world of terrorism. 4) The deluded bubble of air conditioning. 5) Prophets of a post-human race.6) Stop killing meat and start growing it. 7) The creeping logic of embryo weeding. 8) The war on tanning.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.